Added On: Monday, December 01, 2008

Frank Gehry: A Great Example of Personal Branding

Gehry1

A lot of people know who Frank Gehry is; most in fact.  You might not even particularly like architecture, but still have come across his name at some point as he has created some well known and easily recognized buildings. Here in the Twin Cities we are fortunate to have one of Frank Gehry’s creations, the Frederick R. Weisman Museum at the University of Minnesota.  In the flesh, his work is even more remarkable.

Frank Gehry has managed to attain the status of legend in his own lifetime.  More, he has attained the status of a household name while doing work that he wanted to do. He is a great example of a personal branding success story, and one which strikes a chord with me as he is in a service business – I find someone with the ability to achieve incredible success, doing what you believe in while working for somebody else (a client) to be truly remarkable.  For every creative person in a service business there is always the tension between doing work that is meaningful, with self-expression and integrity, without selling out to short-sightedness.

Frank Gehry once said that he never went looking for work, his clients always found him.  I think this is a little more apocryphal than he is trying to imply.  Everyone struggles to attract and retain clients in the early days of developing a brand.  However, his early works were for clients with limited funds.  His answer was (not surprisingly now) to use simple, honest materials such as corrugated iron and chain link, This has led to a distinctive Frank Gehry style of building as displayed in the likes of Bilbao.  Each of his buildings (his products) is unique, yet each have a consistency and spine that are unmistakably Gehry.  And while Frank Gehry has is detractors, he always delivers on his promises – completing projects on time and within budget, a feat that is remarkable within his level of architectural undertaking.

My favorite Gehry quote reveals a humble, creative individual with a zen-like approach to work:  “I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did.”

By: Opensky Consortium

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